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Short term car insurance options and when you might need them

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of your own precious set of wheels rolling along the road.

You’ve spent years together, travelling to and from work or up and down the coast; keeping each other warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Your metal mate has kept you safe trip after trip and you’ve kept them safe, comprehensive car insurance policy after comprehensive car insurance policy.

But now you’re facing a little time apart and the prospect of getting behind the wheel of another vehicle - even if it is for a short period of time - is making you a little nervous. You can ease those nerves with a range of car insurance options to make sure that you’re covered for your short term adventures in a less familiar make and model.

When you might need short term car insurance cover?

Short term car insurance isn’t necessarily a product that you can buy off the shelf from insurance providers, instead you’ll have to opt for one of a few little workarounds that will mean you’re covered even if it is just for one week, in someone else’s car.

But how do you know whether or not you need to find some short term cover? Well, here are a few scenarios that might mean you’re in the market.

  • You’re going on a road trip:  Nothing feels more like the Aussie summer than packing a car full of your best friends (and brews) and heading out on a road trip. But if you plan on sharing the driving responsibilities, you’re probably going to want to make sure that each of you are covered to drive that particular vehicle before you depart.
  • You’re visiting family interstate: If you’re travelling interstate, the chances are you’re going to be using a plane and if you’re visiting family or a friend that is going to let you borrow their car during that time, you might need to look into a short term solution.
  • You’re moving house: If you’re making the big move and have secured a mate’s ute, make sure that their car insurance policy will cover them for anyone to drive the vehicle, or make other insurance arrangements before you get on the road.
  • You’re learning how to drive: If you plan on using a car that isn’t your own when learning you’ll want to be covered - even for just a couple of months. Of course, if your parents are kind enough to include you on their policy you’ll be covered.
  • You plan on moving abroad pretty soon: Maybe you’re not breaking up with your car just yet, but you will be soon. This awkward time period means you don’t want to renew your car insurance policy for another 12 months, but instead have you seeking out short term cover.
  • You own a classic or sports car that only gets driven seasonally: You might have a real pride and joy that you only drive for a few months a year but you definitely want to be covered. If classic car insurance isn’t quite the right fit, a short term alternative might lend a hand.

Why you should seek out short term car insurance?

While some of the scenarios above involve driving an uninsured car for as little as weekend or a day, no period of time is too brief to be insured for. So if you’re unaware, here is what is at stake when driving an uninsured car.

If you’re at fault in an accident and you’re not insured, you’ll be forced to fork out the costs to repair not only the car you were driving, but anyone else’s property that you might have damaged including additional costs such as tow truck expenses or the price of a rental. In saying that, if you’re not at fault whatsoever, the costs of the accident will fall on whoever was.

But a lot of what happens on the road isn’t black and white and fault isn’t always solely affixed to one party, which means that if you’re in the wrong at all, you’ll be forced to stump up for a portion of the costs.

Even if you are involved in an at-fault accident in an insured car, whoever’s policy is attached to the vehicle will need to pay a costly unnamed driver excess, which could be as high as $1,400, to unlock the policy and reap the benefits of your car insurance.

What are your short term car insurance options?

So you’re off on a road trip or visiting family interstate and when you’re driving you want to make sure you’re covered, but without insurance providers offering one week or one month policies, what are your options?

Pay-As-You-Drive Insurance

Some car insurance providers will give you a Pay-As-You-Drive option for those who don’t drive so frequently. This gives Aussies the ability to grab a comprehensive level of cover for a smaller premium, considering they’ll be on the roads a whole lot less than the daily commuter.

How to make it work for you?

When you go online, or call your provider to grab a quote - apart from all the usual details like your age or the vehicle you’ll be driving - you will also be asked to nominate the amount of kilometres you plan on driving and include the odometer reading of the car. Most providers will allow you to transfer unused kilometres onto your next policy or top up your kilometres if you’re running out during your current contract (although you may need to pay an additional premium to do so). It is also worth mentioning that these policies come with a ‘floor price’ which means that there is a minimum amount you will have to pay for this type of policy.

Who is it good for?

Aussies who only drive a particular car for a short time but do so every year could benefit from this type of insurance. Taking one of the scenarios above, if you’ve got a sports car that you know you’re only going to drive for a couple of thousand kilometres each year in the summer but are likely to hold onto it for a few years, then you could benefit.

Paying by the fortnight or month

Even if they plan on using their car all year long, a lot of Aussies choose to pay their premiums on a fortnightly or monthly basis so that it aligns with their own wage payments, but this is also a common short term solution.

How to make it work for you?

Essentially, you take out your policy as though you were ready to commit to the 12 monthly payments but you only pay for the months you use and cancel once you no longer need the insurance. Just be aware that, more than likely, you’ll have to pay an additional premium to pay via instalments and cancellation fees of up to $80 could apply.

Who is it good for?

If you need your policy for a few months but aren’t quite sure how far you’ll be travelling or for how long exactly. This option allows you to keep your policy if your new ride turns out to be permanent and will give you a wide range of providers to choose from. If you’re road tripping in an unfamiliar vehicle for a few months - this could be the most cost effective option for you.

Being added to an existing policy

Someone owns the car you’ll be driving, right? Why not just be added onto their policy! Most policies will let you list additional drivers but doing so could increase the price of the premium to the owner.

How to make it work for you?

Simply ask the owner of the car (and therefore the policy) whether they can contact their provider to add you to the policy and if they get the okay, you should be covered if something goes wrong on the road. Some car insurance providers such as NRMA will allow anyone to drive your car, but most won’t so make sure you double check.

Who is it good for?

This might be the right option for you if you’re visiting family or friends interstate and plan on taking on your fair share of the driving responsibilities. While the premium may get a little more expensive, it will be less expensive than the unnamed driver excess that the insurance provider will demand if you’re at fault in an accident.

If you're in the market for a comprehensive car insurance policy (even if it is just for a few months) check out a range of popular options on the market right now using our car insurance comparison tables.

Mozo Editorial
Mozo Editorial

Mozo’s team of experienced journalists and money experts provide news, insights, practical guides and expert analysis to help you master your personal finances. We follow editorial guidelines that focus on accuracy, reliability and timeliness; helping you make informed financial decisions with confidence and the most of your hard-earned money.